If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen
Following a disappointing meet in May, the OCC headed to Hongmei Lu for its June meeting to test the waters at Indian Kitchen. A long-standing member of Shanghai's curry scene, members were eager how it would stack up in the race for the 2018 Curry House of the Year (CHOTY).
The impeccable customer care was the first note of quality on display at Indian Kitchen. Proving that even experts make mistakes sometimes, a booking mix-up had seen us booked in at the Indian Kitchen on Minsheng Lu in Pudong rather than the Hongmei Lu branch that the 9 members had arrived at. Unperturbed by the unexpected arrival of such a large and esteemed table of curry enthusiasts, we were seated with minimal fuss and waited upon expertly. The manager offered on-point menu recommendations and was always ready to accommodate our needs.
The service was similarly top notch. Drinks were rarely empty and food delivered quickly - all this despite the presence of a Bollywood actress in the upstairs area. Rarely has a curry house in Shanghai been lucky enough to be graced by so many prominent diners at once.
The highlight of the evening was the food itself. The starters of samosas, paneer tikka, kebabs and of course poppadoms had members around the table buzzing for the main course. The excitement was well founded as the curries - rogan josh, chicken madras, garlic beef and palak paneer - soon prompted whispers of a new challenger for 2018's CHOTY. All the dishes were superb; generous heapings of succulent pieces of meat and paneer, and with a pleasing level of spice that is often wanting in Shanghai. Even dessert did not disappoint, with an order of gulab jamun providing the perfect final note on an outstanding meal.
Despite attracting big names from both the Bollywood and curry-reviewing worlds, Indian Kitchen represents surprising value for money.
With a number of drinks consumed and the obvious high quality of food served up, a price of 264 per head for the 9 attendees was deemed to be fantastic value.
As the scores show, the atmosphere of the venue was the lowest scoring aspect, but that's not to say it was a weakness. With the World Cup well underway, members had the pleasure of enjoying the meal and the evening's proceedings while still being able to watch the football. The main negative here was the lack of crowd in the restaurant for a Saturday evening which detracted slightly from the overall ambiance.
All up, the OCC can heartily recommend this venue. Already able to boast that it is the preferred venue of Bollywood stars in Shanghai, Indian Kitchen on Hongmei Lu has gone a long way to being able to add an even larger feather to its cap - the OCC CHOTY for 2018. Its overall score of 8.0 sees it leap firmly to the top of the leaderboard, and it will take a strong challenge in the second half of the year to knock it from its perch.